Is Software Engineering and Computer Science the Same?

Irene Olsen

There is often a lot of confusion when it comes to the terms “Software Engineering” and “Computer Science.” While they may seem interchangeable, they are actually two different fields with unique focuses. In this article, we will explore the differences between Software Engineering and Computer Science.

What is Computer Science?

Computer Science is the study of computer technology, programming languages, algorithms, data structures, and computer theory. It involves the design and development of software and hardware systems. Computer science focuses on the theoretical aspects of computing such as computation models, algorithms design complexity analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Subfields of Computer Science

There are several subfields of computer science which include:

  • Artificial Intelligence: This involves creating machines that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence such as speech recognition or decision-making.
  • Data Science: This involves the extraction of insights from data sets using statistical methods.
  • Computer Graphics: This involves generating images, animations or visual displays using computers.
  • Cybersecurity: This involves protecting computer systems from unauthorized access or attacks.

What is Software Engineering?

Software Engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the design, development, testing and maintenance of software systems. It focuses on applying engineering principles to software development process to ensure high-quality software products are delivered. Software engineering also covers project management activities like planning, estimating budgets and resources.

Difference between Computer Science and Software Engineering

While both fields deal with software development and programming languages but their focus differs when it comes to application. Computer science deals with theoretical concepts like algorithms development whereas Software Engineering deals with practical application by designing solutions for real-life problems.

One way to differentiate between these two fields is to think of Computer Science as the theory and Software Engineering as the application. Computer Science provides the foundation and theoretical knowledge for software engineering, which then applies these principles to create software applications.

Job Roles in Both Fields

There are several job roles available in both Computer Science and Software Engineering. Some of the job roles in Computer science include:

  • Data scientist
  • Artificial Intelligence Engineer
  • Computer graphics specialist
  • Cybersecurity Analyst

Some of the job roles in Software Engineering include:

  • Software Developer
  • Software Tester/QA Engineer
  • Project Manager
  • DevOps Engineer


In summary, while both fields deal with software development, they are different in their focus and application. Computer Science focuses on theoretical aspects of computing while Software Engineering focuses on practical application by designing solutions for real-world problems. Both fields have several subfields and offer a variety of job opportunities for individuals interested in pursuing a career in technology.